With all that's happening on the national and world stages, it's easy to lose sight of things right at our feet. Taking a deep breath and thinking about things close to home can be quite refreshing. 


Everyone likes to feel good. The Food Network says: “While food may not be able to cure all that ails you, what you eat can certainly affect how you feel.” They offer a list of ten foods that can help boost your mood.


One of those foods is pasta. “Eating healthy carbs like pasta releases serotonin — a feel-good chemical that the nervous system uses to send messages to and from the brain.”


After the pasta, some chocolate may be on the menu. “Chocolatey goodness elevates your mood. Not only can that sweet flavor make you smile, the prebiotics found in dark chocolate also offer benefits to health.”


If you like to munch on a big bowl of popcorn as a snack, you're in luck. “Crunchy carbs like popcorn pack an instant burst of feel-good serotonin.” (


Another new food product might go with that bowl of popcorn. This may not make you feel any better, but when you smile it may elicit guffaws from those around you. “The latest Fanta beverage might be one of the brand's most eye-popping creations yet. In honor of the fast-approaching Halloween season, Fanta is currently rolling out a brand-new drink that's black in color.” 

The taste is a secret, but that's not what will affect your smile. “Fanta says that the spooky beverage will turn your tongue black when you drink it.” (


As long as you're on the couch and everyone is in a good mood, it could be interesting to discuss names. Specifically, why do you have a certain name? “If you’ve ever wondered how popular your name is, it’s easy to find out. In 1998, the Social Security Administration began ranking the most common first names for each year dating back to 1880. They then whittled down the list to the 200 most popular names of each decade.” The most popular boy and girl names from the past century are at:


Don't worry if you make a mess while eating. A common item in most houses will come in handy. “There’s probably a bottle of Windex in your cabinet. Did you know Windex has myriad other cleaning uses beyond these traditional ones? From repelling bugs to unsticking zippers, the cleaning powerhouse is far from a one-trick pony.” A list of ten uses are at:


According to Reader's Digest, Windex can actually be an insect repellent. “Windex makes an excellent bug killer. Simply spray any pests you’d like to eliminate, or spray the edges of doors and windows to keep them out. “


Have  a stubborn zipper? “To unjam a zipper, give it a small spritz, let it sit for a moment, then wiggle the zipper pull to get the Windex inside all the nooks and crannies. Voilà! Your zipper will be good as new.” 


If you happen to leave the house, your car could not only be transportation but also a learning experience. “Not sure what that dash light or that button on your key fob does? These seven stealthy features could make you feel like you have a brand-new car.” (


One of these is a gas tank side indicator. “It can be hard to remember what side your gas cap is on. There’s a little arrow next to the gas symbol on your fuel gauge that points to the side of the car that should be facing the pump. This tiny, easy-to-miss feature can save you a whole lot of awkwardness pulling into the gas station.” I checked both cars in our household and the indicator was on both. I'll be hornswaggled! 


Returning home, if there are kidlings waiting for you the inevitable question will be asked: “What did you bring me?” Not to worry because you can reply: “A toy from the list of twelve nominees being considered for The National Toy Hall of Fame.” (


Just announced this week, the classic toys are: bingo, Bop It, Cabbage Patch Kids, Choose Your Own Adventure books, Connect 4, the Little Tykes Cozy Coupe, Nerf toys, slime, baseball cards, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Battleship and Ken. 

All of these toys are worthy of recognition. The cool thing is that you can help choose the winners. To cast your vote, go to the Player’s Choice Ballot at: The voting is open until September 20. “Vote for the one you think best meets the criteria of icon-status, longevity, discovery, and innovation.” 


I voted for baseball cards. As a nipper, nothing smelled sweeter than the pink slab of bubble gum in a pack of cards. Back then, you'd get six cards and the gum for a nickel. Friend Ron and I would spend hours on his back yard picnic table reading the stats on the backs of the cards and making trades. What a great way to spend a summer afternoon. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and